406-203-5148 Over $8,000,000 in verdicts and settlements in past 3 years. More than 60 years of combined experience.
Areas & Topics

Missoula Personal Injury Blog

Protection against drunk drivers

Montana drivers who are concerned about road safety, particularly when it comes to drunk drivers, can take certain steps to protect themselves. Defensive driving is a form of driving that can help people save their own lives when they are sharing the road with drunk drivers.

It is important to first be able to recognize the signs that another driver on the road may be drunk. Typical driving signs may include making turns that are too wide, driving in the center of the road and narrowly miss hitting another vehicle. Drunk drivers may also be driving too slowly, braking erratically, making sudden or illegal turns, turning or swerving abruptly, driving on the wrong side of the road or reacting too slowly traffic signals.

Was the driver who hit you distracted at the wheel?

If you're in the baby boomer generation or older, you may recall taking leisurely Sunday drives with your family as a child. Nowadays, this form of free time activity is not as common, quite possibly because Montana roadways are a lot more dangerous now than they were then. Why? One reason is simply that there are many more cars on the road at any given time than there used to be. Posted speed limits are often higher, as well.

One of the leading factors of increased highway danger, however, is that of distracted driving. You may adhere to all traffic regulations and practice good driving habits that help keep yourself and your passengers safe, but if there's a distracted driver nearby, you and anyone else in the vicinity are at great risk for injury. It's important to be able to recognize signs of distracted driving and also to know where to seek support if a collision occurs.

Mother killed after falling in subway station

On Jan. 28 at about 8 p.m., a 22-year-old woman fell in a New York City subway station and died. At the time of the fall, the woman was attempting to carry her toddler while also carrying the baby's stroller. The woman was taking the stairs because the station on 53rd Street in Manhattan had no elevator. Currently, about 25 percent of the city's 476 subway stations are accessible to those who can't use stairs or an escalator.

However, there is no guarantee that the elevators that are in place will work. According to the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA), elevator installation in subway stations is a priority. The MTA plans to ensure that an individual won't have to go more than two stops before finding a functional elevator by 2025. Disability advocates have sued the state and the federal government saying that the lack of access violates the law.

Study suggests most people aren't allergic to penicillin

A common allergy reported by people in Montana and other states seeking medical treatment is penicillin. However, a new study suggests most individuals are not actually allergic to this widely used antibiotic. Published in a leading medical journal, the study concluded that 95 percent of the estimated 32 million people believed to be allergic to penicillin can take this medicine without experiencing reactions. Penicillin is an antibacterial drug with a long history of being used to help patients with bacterial infections.

While the study doesn't give reasons for the tendency to classify individuals as being allergic to penicillin, one possibility is that some children may be mistakenly given this antibiotic for what's really a viral infection. If they have a negative reaction, a doctor may err on the side of caution and consider a patient allergic to this particular medicine. Other times, there may be a desire to reduce the risk of related medical malpractice issues by being overly cautious. Viral infections are also commonly accompanied by rashes, which could be misinterpreted as an allergic reaction to an antibiotic. Additional research suggests that a third of all prescriptions for antibiotics are likely not needed.

Surgeon stress can lead to mistakes in operating room

The link between stress and medical errors has long been known, but a new study shows how even short-term stress can lead to mistakes in the operating room. Montana residents may want to know the results before they go under the knife. After all, medical errors are to blame for 250,000 to 440,000 deaths every year in the U.S.

Researchers at the Data Science Institute at Columbia University had a professor of surgery perform various procedures while wearing a Hexoskin Smart Shirt under his scrubs. This shirt, often used by athletes during workouts, measures electrical impulses from the heart and can help determine momentary stress levels based on the time between heartbeats. Through laparoscopic video recordings, researchers could document any mistakes.

Tips for defusing aggressive drivers

Road rage is all too common in Montana, just like anywhere else, but there are ways that drivers can avoid incurring it. Staying calm is the most important tip. When drivers are cut off, they should avoid honking the horn, flashing the high beams or making inflammatory hand gestures. These actions are better reserved for alerting other drivers to dangers.

Many drivers have their own methods for defusing anger. Music, for example, is proven to relieve stress. On the other hand, drivers will want to avoid tightly gripping their steering wheel for health reasons alone as it constricts blood flow and causes headaches. Drivers should be reasonable and remind themselves that they won't get home much sooner when they are angry.

ZF reveals potential advantages of external airbags

The ZF Group has revealed that external airbags could reduce the severity of accident injuries by as much as 40 percent. The car parts manufacturer also has a strategy for how the technology could be developed moving forward. While Montana drivers won't want to hold their breath for them, external airbags may eventually become standard in most vehicles.

ZF's external airbags go on the sides of a vehicle to provide an added crumple zone should a side collision occur. One challenge is to ensure that the airbags deploy a split second before the actual crash; after all, external airbags provide a more drastic solution than other systems, which tighten the seatbelt or adjust the suspension when they sense a collision.

Car crashes decreased in vehicles with emergency braking system

A new study shows that drivers in Montana and across the nation benefit more than initially suspected from automatic emergency braking systems. Researchers from the Insurance Institute For Highway Safety conducted the study, and they looked at 10 different models of General Motors vehicles from 2013 to 2015 that were equipped with an automatic braking system. The study included both small and large cars, mid-sized vehicles and full-sized SUVs.

Automatic braking systems typically prevent motor vehicle accidents in two ways. A braking alert system warns a driver about a possible crash. The emergency brake system alerts the driver about a possible crash and applies the brakes to their fullest capacity. The study indicates that vehicles equipped with both alert and automatic braking systems work best to prevent accidents. Vehicles with the systems were involved in 43 percent fewer rear-end accidents, 64 percent fewer crashes with injuries of all types and 68 percent fewer collisions that involved third-party injuries when compared to vehicles without the automatic emergency braking systems.

How safe is your Montana railroad job?

Many Montana workers have come from long lines of ancestry where parents, grand-parents and perhaps even great grand-parents have given service to the transcontinental railroads that helped industrialize the United States. You may consider your railroad job both rewarding and challenging. Whether you are an engineer, conductor or work on a line maintenance crew, you may relate to many railroad employees who say they have loved trains since childhood and are happy earning their livings on the tracks.  

It's no secret, however, that railroad work typically ranks high on most lists concerning dangerous jobs in America. The commercial fishing industry, construction work and electrical work also carry high personal risk for injury. Your employer has a serious obligation to help keep you safe. If your employer fails to fulfill this duty, you may suffer injuries that cause partial or full disability.  

Accident risks increase with each hour of lost sleep

Most Montana residents are aware that driving when sleep-deprived can be just as dangerous as doing so when impaired by alcohol, but studies suggest that knowledge alone is not enough to prevent them from engaging in this dangerous behavior. Fatigue is thought to be a factor in about 16 percent of all fatal crashes, which is concerning for road safety advocates because Department of Transportation figures suggest that one in three American motorists get less than the recommended seven hours of sleep each night.

The results of a study published on Oct. 1 in the scientific journal Sleep reveal that motor vehicle accident risks increase exponentially with each hour of lost sleep. Interviews with drivers involved in 5,470 crashes investigated by the DOT suggest that drivers who sleep for six hours instead of between seven and nine are 1.3 times more likely to crash. Accidents are 2.9 times more likely with four hours of sleep according to the researchers, and motorists who get behind the wheel after sleeping for less than four hours are as impaired as a driver with a blood alcohol concentration of .12 percent.


Towe & Fitzpatrick, PLLC
619 SW Higgins, Ste. O
P.O. Box 1745
Missoula, MT 59806

Phone: 406-203-5148
Phone: 406-829-1669
Missoula Law Office Map

Footer image

Montana Trial Lawyers Association Just For All